By Chris Patrick
People eat insects in different ways. Some do it without hesitation or fear, the journey of the insect from hand to mouth swift and lacking fanfare, their mastication matter-of-fact. Others need a bit more egging-on, only relenting with enough peer pressure and encouragement.
In March 2015, I attended the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Branch of the Entomological Society of America in Rehoboth, Delaware. One of the best parts was getting to learn about entomophagy, the eating of insects. It’s done all over the world for a variety of reasons, including necessity, sustainability, and novelty seeking.
Louis Sorkin is an experienced insect eater, as well as an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History and a forensic entomologist for Entsult Associates. He is passionate about sharing this practice with others, and he brought along a variety of insect snacks for an exhibit.
He also gave a brief talk on entomophagy at a reception one evening. To hear a few clips from his talk, including one on how to prepare tarantulas for consumption and one on alcohol laced with wasp pheromones, watch the following video:
Both the brazen and the tentative insect eaters — including children — visited Sorkin’s exhibit at the family-friendly “It’s a Bug’s World” insect expo during the meeting. The dishes included roasted and spiced grasshoppers, cricket protein bars, and chapulin salsa (a chapulin is a grasshopper frequently consumed in Mexico.) Only the most daring tried his tobacco hornworm caterpillars, fat and aqua-colored.
Uncertain or not, the comments I heard — after a great deal of contemplative chewing — were usually along the lines of “That’s not so bad!” or “Tastes like …”
I really wanted to try them myself — really, I promise — but as a vegetarian I had no choice but to refrain.
Chris Patrick is a graduate student in the science writing program at Johns Hopkins University. Click here to read her blog.